By Jeff Gallatin
Police officers are there to help the rest of us when we need them, and now several projects are underway to help a popular North Olmsted officer who recently was severely injured by an alleged drunk driver.
Patrolman Jack Justice, a 14-year veteran of the North Olmsted Police Department, remains hospitalized in serious condition at MetroHealth Medical Center as a result of injuries suffered when, after going off duty March 1, his car was struck by a truck with an attached plow while he was driving to his Liverpool Township home. The driver of the truck, Dalton P. Phillips, 23, of Columbia Station, is facing drunk driving, fleeing the scene and other charges, law enforcement officials said.
North Olmsted police Capt. Ron Cox said the department and Justice’s family and friends appreciate the continued concern shown by the community for Justice.
“His body is recovering, but it’s a slow process,” Cox said. “It’s going to be a long road.”
Cox said help continues to be offered through the special Jack Justice Benefit Fund set up to help the family with its growing medical bills. Donations to the fund can made at Fifth Third Bank (either at the North Olmsted branch, 27243 Lorain Road, or at other area branches) or the North Coast Credit Union, 22735 Lorain Road.
Fifth Third manager Jeff Herwick said Justice is well-known.
“There has been a definite response,” Herwick said. “Jack’s taken care of the community and this bank for many years as a police officer. He was a welcome sight when he came into the parking lot in his cruiser or walked into the bank as an officer or as a citizen.”
Cox noted that the department recently received a letter from a woman whom Justice ticketed several years ago.
“She remembered him because he was so polite and professional in explaining why he had to write the ticket and that she said she understood it and appreciated how he handled it and wanted to give her best wishes to him and his family,” Cox said.
In addition to the benefit fund, Cox said Applebee’s restaurant has set up an April 16 event at its North Olmsted location at 5010 Great Northern Plaza South, where from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. people can present an ad/flier (located on page C2 in this week’s West Life) to their server and have 15 percent of the check donated to help pay for Justice’s bills.
Noelle Burgos, manager at the North Olmsted Applebee’s, said the restaurant will do dine-and-donate events involving community residents and causes.
“Jack has been a police officer for a long time in our community,” she said. “We’re a part of the community, so we do these type of events to show our support, and we just wanted to reach out because he is part of community and family.”
And on May 9, a fundraiser has been set from 6 p.m. to midnight at the St. Clarence Church Hall, 30106 Lorain Road, North Olmsted. The $25 per person ticket will include food, beverages and a chance at different raffle prizes. Further information can be obtained at 440-716-4187.
“We really appreciate Applebee’s doing that,” Cox said, “and there will be a lot of fun and interesting raffle items at the St. Clarence event.”